An open letter to Bill Shorten

Dear Mr Shorten,

I have been a supporter of you for some time, and wish you all the best for the coming election.

I was, however, very disappointed by your recent declaration that Labour would not be removing the GST from sanitary items should you form government. I am equally disappointed in the Coalition who have remained silent on the issue despite the former treasurer Hockey stating that the tax would go.

I understand that a government cannot “tell everyone what they want to hear” and comply with every societal groups’ wants when it comes to the Budget. But, please take a step back from this issue economically for a moment and consider the personal  ramifications and implications of this tax.

You are taxing women – only women – for their bodily processes. The bodily processes that create life. Women who use sanitary items are at the most vulnerable times of their lives: menstruating, or bleeding due to miscarriage or childbirth. Periods can debilitate women. But we do not complain despite the painful, tiresome and annoying week per month where we bleed. We continue to work, continue to care for our families, continue to compete as elite athletes, continue to attend to our study, and continue to go through life. Sufferers of Endometriosis often suffer in silence – undiagnosed or not even realising that their pain is so much worse than others’. For a moment think of women suffering financial hardship and especially homeless women – many cannot afford to buy sanitary items which becomes a horrifyingly unhealthy and uncomfortable situation for them to find themselves in. But it is certainly not their fault for being women, is it?

I had a miscarriage last year. It broke my body as well as my heart. Whilst still in the throes of contractions, sitting in the passenger seat of the car, my partner ran into the local milk bar to buy me pads. He came back with Tena pads for incontinence. Despite the pain coursing through my body, I laughed at him “those are for women who can’t control their BLADDERS!!!” He ran back in and changed them.

The comparison here is ridiculous. Pads for incontinence do not attract the GST. But pads for me, as I lose the baby my body and mind has begun to make a dedicated space for, attracts a 10% tax. Deemed not essential. Deemed a luxury. Are you serious?

Women who give birth can bleed for weeks. I don’t really think I need to explain to you the importance of childbirth to the human race or Australian society. But please explain – why should women be taxed for dealing with this wonderful, but often traumatic event?

You often speak of – and many of your proposed policies are based on – respect for women and a wish for real equality in this country. If you cannot put in the effort to remove a tax that only affects women at the most vulnerable times of their lives, then you are NOT respecting the rights of women, nor showing you care about equal treatment of the sexes. You are using us as a means of raising revenue.

My body SHOULD NOT BE a tool for raising revenue. It is as simple as that.

I urge you to stop pandering to the Budget bottom line and DO what you SAY you do best – put people first.

Wising you all the best for the weekend,

Jacqueline

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